Hot Dish

Hot Dish: April 16, 2008

BY April 16, 2008


Inside the Gulfshore’s Dining Scene

Welcome to a new world of culinary delights, where we’ll be sampling everything the Gulfshore has to offer from home cooking to haute cuisine.

In a city with beautiful beaches along the Gulf, where does one find a great new steakhouse to rave about? Right by the water, of course! Naples’ The Grill Club Churrascaria (492 Bayfront Place, 239-430-7020) offers Brazilian “barbecue” churrasco-style, serving it up continuously, rodizio-style, till you are satiated. The food is seasoned with coarse salt, roasted on saber-skewers over an open fire, and served tableside by black-clad gauchos with orange bandanas. It is delicious! Start with dozens of fresh appetizers, but don’t fill up yet. Sample the tasty filet mignon, skirt steak, ribeye, grilled chicken or tender lamb. There are more than 16 savory skewers to try, and it’s all you can eat. Save room for the signature passion fruit mousse for dessert!
Not to be outdone, Fort Myers’ Amazon Grill serves similar Brazilian food, but with a less ample menu and lower price point great for families dining in or tasty take-out. It’s located near India Palace at 11609 S Cleveland Ave. #30, Fort Myers, (239) 939-0993.

Now cross the bridge to Cape Coral to dine amongst antique furniture, or relax on a patio courtyard, serenaded at times by a guitarist and cellist at Brew Babies. The name bespeaks a wide variety of coffees but belies the great food and atmosphere. It’s under the radar for many in Lee County. The menu changes daily, cooked by Wayne and Valerie Elam. 1520 Lafayette Street, Cape Coral, (239) 542-2224.
Head back to Lee County’s mainland for Spanish style treats. Dwyer’s has opened its Tastes tapas and martini bar Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. onward. With innovative Executive Chef Bill Wavrin’s emphasis on spa-quality freshness, you are in for a treat! Dwyer’s, once an Irish pub, has recreated itself as a top steakhouse and will be having cooking classes during the summer (more about that later…). 13851 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, (239) 425-0782.

On a sad note, Marie-Michelle’s Restaurant on the Bay will be closing in May, after many years at The Village on Venetian Bay in Naples. While the official story is that she is retiring, insiders believe this is helped along by new demands of the landlord, as the lease is due for renewal. This loss of a beautiful independent French restaurant is unfortunate, as there are both a dwindling number of fine waterfront restaurants and independent restaurants as the economy slows. This lovely restaurant, and popular meeting place to watch dolphins while dining, shall be missed.

And now, for a quiz: Can you guess the name of this romantic waterfront restaurant? It has been in business more than 34 years (that’s right!) and is filled just by word of mouth over its famously popular continental-style cuisine. Quite a few engagements and anniversaries have been celebrated here.

Still inquisitive? E-mail me your hints and experiences to and let’s broaden our choices of great Southwest Florida restaurants together.